Jordan Angeli (center, facing camera) celebrates her third goal of the season - and second in as many games - against Washington in Sunday's 2-1 win. (Photo by CHRIS ADUAMA/aduama.com)
Theyve done it their last three games, including Sundays 2-1 win over the Washington Freedom at Harvard Stadium. Boston (4-5-4, 16 points) remains in sixth place, but is just a point out of the top four playoff spots and has a game in hand on every team above it in the standings.
The Breakers got off to a rough start when Nikki Marshall scored just over two minutes into the match, but goals by Liz Bogus (23rd minute) and Jordan Angeli (74th minute) earned three points for the home team. Both players have scored in back-to-back matches, having also found the net in last Sundays 3-1 win over Atlanta.
Weve gone behind in three straight games, which isnt necessarily a good thing, but the team isnt panicking, said Breakers head coach Tony DiCicco.
Angelis game-winner came off a corner kick earned by Lauren Cheney, who after playing 45 minutes for US national team Saturday in East Hartford, came on in the 70th minute for Kelly Smith Sunday. Kristine Lilly - who also played a half for the national team Saturday before entering Sundays match with a half-hour to go - took the corner from the right side of the pitch and found the head of defender Ifeoma Dieke toward the back post.
Dieke headed the ball back toward the middle, where Lindsay Tarpley flicked it on toward Angeli, who booted it just under the crossbar from six yards out to give the Breakers the lead.
The Freedom didnt seriously threaten after that, but Breakers keeper Alyssa Naeher had some work to do prior to the goal. In the 17th minute, with the visitors still leading 1-0, Sonia Bompastor sent in Marshall with a ball over the top of the Breakers back line. Naeher came off her line and made a kick save on Marshalls attempt to double Washingtons lead.
Bompastor put Naeher to the test just seconds before halftime with a cross that wound up going toward goal, requiring the keeper to make a good fingertip save to keep the ball out of the top corner of the net.
Boston keeper Alyssa Naeher (left) makes a play on the ball as Washington's Nikki Marshall puts on the pressure. (Photo by CHRIS ADUAMA/aduama.com)
Naeher, a Seymour, Conn. native, has been in goal for all three of the wins in Bostons streak and the last five games overall after starting the season as the teams third-choice keeper.
[My confidence] has grown a lot, for sure, Naeher said. We stuck together all season and it feels good to start being rewarded with some wins.
The Breakers did well to shake off Marshalls early goal, which came on a cross from the right side from Sarah Huffman, who had made a 50-yard run into the box after getting past Boston fullback Stephanie Cox. DiCicco deemed it an organizational goal that came down, in part, to a lack of communication from Naeher to her defenders.
The back four looked a bit ragged at the start. In the 22nd minute, Bompastor was allowed to waltz into the box from the left wing and get a good, uncontested cross into the area toward Marshall. Cox did enough to disrupt the play and allow Naeher to cover up the ball.
The game started to change just a minute later with Bogus goal, which was set up by a terrific play by Smith. The English international won the ball in a 50-50 about 30 yards out, beat another defender and passed to an unmarked Bogus in the left side of the penalty area. From there, Bogus took on touch and pass it through the legs for Freedom keeper Erin McLeod for the goal.
With Lilly, Cheney, Cox (who played 90 minutes Sunday after not playing for the US Saturday) and defender Amy LePeilbet all away from the club recently for national team duty, DiCicco said he has seen some of his less experienced players coming up big over the last week.
Some of our younger players are maturing, said the coach. Alyssa Naeher made a big save on a breakaway from Marshall. Jordan Angeli has now scored in two consecutive games.
The full squad is now back at DiCiccos disposal, and hes going to need it with first-place FC Gold Pride (10-3-1, 31 points) in town for a 7 p.m. kickoff Wednesday. Gold Pride is the highest-scoring team in WPS - led by Marta (10 goals) and Christine Sinclair (7 goals) - and the Breakers wont want to dig themselves another early hole.
I wish we could figure it (going behind early) out, Angeli said. But were showing a lot of heart to fight back. Hopefully the next time we get the lead and get a win. Were winning, and thats all that matters right now.
Mark Goodman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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